Dec 31, 2011

First 4GF Testamonials of 2012!

Hi Paul

Thanks a lot the surf matt has arrived it looks very well made, I like the fabric on the top and the slick bottom . It should catch waves long before body boarders .

I will give her a blast and get back to you .

By for now Jeremy


Hi Paul

Recived the Trackers today, looks amazing (and surprisely very solid) ... Manuel is surfing in Canary Islands as soon as I wet the mattres I will let you know...

Thanks Paul



Hi Paul,

Thanks, so much for the update, the very swift processing/shipment of the order, and the Riders Guide.

I know how you men are with instructions, but you have personal assurances he will not get his new toy, until he can recite the entire thing. This is a Christmas gift to supplement his retirement gift, which is 10 days camping on O'ahu with his surf bum crew. This solves many riddles. Packs into a checked bag. Nice and soft, to minimize injury, and as a caveat, he just turned 55 in body. He's about 16 between his ears. For me, I'm getting piece of mind knowing that if he goes after some bigger waves, he'll avoid some trouble, and for him, it fulfills some homage to George Greenough. Being around surfers for the past 25 years, I can appreciate the metaphysics of it and the coolness factor. I'll never understand it, but he's my husband, the biggest gremmie (His words.)



Hi Paul,

I still haven't got the mat wet yet. No waves!! Nothing over 2-3ft. Merewether Board Riders Club had to decide their Final under these conditions. Bumped into Mark Richards at the supermarket and told him about my mat. He said he knew of you and your mats. I can hardly wait for some decent surf to come through!!



Hi Paul

Just got back from a couple of days in Cornwall. Something Ive noticed recently is the lack of inflation Im using. I always inflate my mat so that when the vale is open theres no pressure i.e none escaping. Once Im in I tend to let air out. It seems Ive found a level of inflation that Im very happy with, which doesnt seem to be very much at all, when I leave the water its barely inflated and limp. Is this normal?

Another thing Ive discover is putting the arms forward in a superman position, puts a little bit of weight forwards, the results are amazing. I usualy do this on small waves or coming the end of a ride.




Hi Paul

Light winds to day and a big swell running in St Ouens bay, so I went to St Brelads to try out the matt , the waves there were glassy and 1'1/2 to 2'1/2 feet , had a few short lefts but mostly strait handers, lots of closeouts, the matt seems fast and manoeuvrable and should be a lot of fun .

Thanks a lot Jeremy .


Hi Paul,

I arrived home from South Coast NSW yesterday pleased to find a card from the local post office under my front door so rushed down to pick up my Vespa.

All seems good. Thank you.

I'll let you know how I get on.




Yeeeeh, ace! Can’t wait to get on it. Will let you know asap, but will have to wait till atleast the 30th as there is no waves in leeds and 400 miles from home! Thanks for all your help and advice dude.



Paul, the more I think about how mats work,the more I realize the less I know,which leads me to be grateful for trained professionals[You],conducting research under highly controlled conditions with your lovely assistant[Gloria],at your,side clipboard in hand,saving the data for future generations to ponder. Paul,and Gloria,keepin it Real,keepin it Boss. Thanks, Guerdon.


paul, Wow, that was quick..thanks and i will keep you posted..but may wait til warmer waters lol. cindy


i really enjoyed your recent postings at surfmatters (inside rail, big wednesday footage, fin mod), it got me totally stoked!



Thanks Paul!!

My friend Sean referred me to you--I've gone out on his spare mat and thoroughly enjoyed it. This one's actually for my mother! She's caught the surfing bug, and is keen to try something that she can take out even when there isn't big enough surf. Looking forward to helping her break it in ;-)




Hi Paul

Standard arrived today, super stoked on your fast shipping (cracked up when I saw BEACH RAFT on declaration note). Waiting for Christmas morning to open it. Also I have read your rider/user guide it was really informative. Just a quick question what are UDT fins like? are they as good as everyone says, once milled down. I tried my dad's old duck feet earlier today, wondering whether they would be good enough for matting? Once again thanks for the mat, pleasure doing business with you. Also I'll try get a ride report to you a soon as possible.

Thanks heaps


: )


Paul, received the mat and we are all excited to give it a spin.Would like to have had it on this trip to costa rica we took just 2 weeks ago.i would have been in the water more instead of being the photographer (although it's what i do and love) thanks pics will be surf mat riding :)..cindy


The package arrived last night, Paul. Thanks again. Will let you know how it goes!

Happy holiday, Sheila


Hey Paul i got to ride my tracker out the pass this morning for the first time, had a hoot!

thanks for the nice mat.



Dear Paul,

Your box arrived yesterday and Steve put it under the Rosemary bush dressed as our Christmas tree, for us to open together on Christmas morning.

Thank you again for thinking of us.

We look forward to sharing about riding the new joyful wave riding vehicles that you have made.

Merry Christmas!!!

Love and Aloha,

Cher and Steve


Yo paul,

Opened it yesterday, really pleased with it thanks for the work that went into making it. Like I said im thrilled with how it looks and will be having a test run on Thursday once I head home to Cornwall.

Hope you have enjoyed the holidays, will hopefully get a video of Andy Cooke and I catching some waves.

Cheers dude



Hi Paul,

Thanks very much for the Standard that you sent out, received in the mail the other day, no problems.

The surfmats are great - along with the Standard I also have a Tracker RT, and I'm impressed with them, and pretty excited about their potential as well, so much fun, really versatile, and so easy to travel with. The last surf I had on the mat was interesting, conditions weren't that great, hardly anyone out, about 3-4 ft irregular swell, but it made for the waves that were coming through to be wedging up into little peaks all over the sandbar, low tide too so it was hollow, which just meant barrel after barrel for a couple of hours, it turned ordinarily bad conditions/short rides which most people wouldn't take a second look at, into one of the best little sessions. Surreal too, to be going through normally rough little barrels on a soft cushion of air! I got stopped on the beach after coming out by a couple that said they had stopped and watched for a while as they said they were fascinated by the surfmat, so it must have looked like a lot of fun too.

The surf isnt very good here at the moment and work is going to be fairly busy the next couple of months but after that I'm hoping to spend a fair bit of time on the mat with the idea of getting some nice photos/footage together, but I'll let you know when, hopefully it turns out well.

Anyway thanks again for the mats Paul, hope you're having a good time over Christmas and New Year!



Thanks Paul! I can't wait to get it in the water. I have put off buying a mat for too long.



Dear Friends,

Hope you are having a good winter holiday.

It was totally tough this year, but we could survive this hardness and now we are ready to invite a new year. We want to express our deep appreciation for your thoughts, concerns and supports in 2011.

Then we will have a winter break from tomorrow to 4th Jan. We'll be back to work on 5th.

I'm looking forward to seeing you soon in 2012!!!

With warmest wishes,



Hi, paul.

How are you.

In the end of 2011. yes I'm fine. but there are too many tragedy. Radioactive substance passed out from Japan. I'd like to say sorry to all over the world.

I've treated them by the therapy at minamisouma city Hukushima in june and september. I'm a japanese traditional therapyst. That's What I do. I heared many sad stories of them, when I went there. One of them was become totally alone, her family was carried away by tunami.

Anyway, your mat that you send me is really awsome, I love them.

I really thank you for your consern and kindness.

Sincerely yours



Stoked. Happy new year. I’ll let you know. Brad


Dec 28, 2011

Banking While Trimming

Pulling a mat up on its rail while at trim speed is a simple and easy way to hold in, generate more speed, and/or re-direct the mat into the juiciest part of the wave. It's like a bottom turn, but it it doesn't result in a large change of direction. It reduces the wetted surface area of the mat, if only momentarily, and allows the mat to aim up into the pocket. Most every mat rider executes this move, often intuitively.

The above video clip is of Mr. Dirk at the LA County Mat Meet earlier this year. In the last half of the ride, Dirk slithers around the section that lets down in front of him, then banks the mat over to redirect his momentum. He does that two more times along the wall as the wave tapers down in size. A classic example!

In the second "close-up/slo-mo" part of the video, you can see Dirk's mat start to drift out of control for just an instant as he picks a line between the two board surfers, then when he banks the mat over, the rail resets itself and he's off again. :)

Following are images that are variations of the same move...

Dec 26, 2011

Follow Up To Our UDT Swimfin Post...

Peter Dixon has over 60 years of diving, surfing and life guarding experience on a professional level. Among other things, he did a lot of work as a diver and technical advisor on Seahunt. 

He has written 30 books. His latest, Hunting the Dragon is the story of a young surfer who signs aboard a pirate tuna clipper. When he learns that the catch tuna dolphin are killed for dollar a can tuna he vows to sink the ship.

Peter is also Mat Max's father, and an avid mat rider to this day!

He was kind enough to provide some insight to the photos a posted last week regarding the UDT swim fins. He really knows his stuff, so it is a thrill to get some first hand information to help clarify some of the grey historical areas.


Hi Paul,

I'll yo-yo between this and the photos of the Frogmen. Have you seen the 1951 Fox film THE FROGMEN? Lots of fins showing in the movie. Worth a look at the trailers. The gear is true to the period. Here are remarks key to the eight photos.

#1 WWII preSCUBA pre UDTs Frogmen. Fins may have been made of synthetic rubber due to shortage. The heavy set guy on the right may be a LA City Lifeguard I worked with in 1952 named Earl Emboden. He gave my my first SCUBA lesson by shoving me off the Santa Monica Pier after saying, "Just breath normally and come up slow."  

#2 Probably black synthetic rubber fins. I recall the carbon black in the rubber rubbed off and stained the skin.

#3-5 Korean War vintage 1950-53. My brown Duck Feet are of this era. Churchills still dominated for skin diving, body surfing, and yes Hodgeman surf matting. A lot of the older LA Beach Guards kept surf mats in the lifeguard trucks for candescent fun and even rescues. I rode mats many times at the mouth of the LA River in six foot surf. We'd jump off the rock jetty and catch the wave on the fly. The dry suits were pre-SCUBA era. 

#6 I'm guessing this is the late 1950s. The SCUBA mouth pieces have non return valves and the divers are wearing earphones for some sort of primitive UW sound system.

#7 The SCUBA regulator and steel banded twin tanks (back breakers) suggest this was mid 1950. We wore these monsters on SEA HUNT in the late 1950s.

The single diver exploring the wreck seems to be wearing Duck Feet. I'm guessing the diver is a civilian and the photo from an early Skin Diver magazine. 

The best fins I ever had for body surfing were gum rubber Duck Feet.

When you check out Frogmen on Google there's a brief clip of WWII German UDT divers blowing up a bridge. (At 2:05) They're wearing fins that lace up like shoes.

Where the Dixons and "water wise" neighbors lived by the beach for decades, so many fins were lost we'd collect them by the dozens. At the end of summer we'd have a fin exchange party and usually match up 15-20 pair.

I hope this help to widen the obscure information file.

Cheers, Peter Dixon

Almost forgot. In my book The Silent Adventure (Ballantine softcover 1968) there are several photos of vintage fins and diving gear.

Dec 25, 2011

Mat Surfing's Year-In-Review!!!

2011 started out rough for us here at 4GF. On Monday, Jan 3, we got our first piece of mail...with 34 cents due. The year was only three days old, and we were already in the red!


Over in Europe, Tom devised a way to simultaneously inflate his mat while checking out the chicas on the beach...a solid tip for guy mat riders everywhere!


Marc's surf-trip-of-a-lifetime to France was spoiled when he was robbed at gunpoint leaving the water on day one...


Deflated mats are easier to transport...but in most countries, you get an insurance discount for having a scooter with a permanently deployed air bag!


The July issue of For Men Only featured a stunning expose' on the surf culture entitled, "The Hell Surfers."

Inspired by actual events, the final chapter of Hell Surfers depicts a bizarre beach-orgy during an LA County Mat Meet!


Up in Santa Cruz, Daniel misconstrued his new-found trim speed for superhuman wave riding talent!


Charlie Sheen never lost sight of his Malibu roots...flying the 4GF colors at a Vegas shindig!


Mat riders the world over held their collective breath as Surfer Magazine re-discovered mat surfing...


Mat Max proved that you can indeed ride a mat in a crowd!


2011 also proved that fat guys sporting reef walkers and a trans-green surf mat will never go out of style!


Rocco The Cat -- who helps me build mats when he isn't napping -- turned one year old in June!


Mr. Dirk was the only participant who showed up for "Santa Barbara Mat Meet #1." We asked him to grab some digital action pics for the blog, and he generously obliged... 


The highest and best use for body boards was finally discovered...


The art world was overjoyed when a long-lost Picasso entitled "Muchacho Feliz En Azul" (Happy Boy In Blue), was unearthed. World renown "mat riding Picasso historian" Mr. Ricky of Los Angeles assessed the piece. "My educated guess is that it might be from Picasso's Blue know, since it's mostly blue, and blue is in the title and stuff..."

"Muchacho Feliz"  foretold of surf mats, wetsuits, and Churchill swim fins over 100 years ago! It was discovered at the bottom of an Easter egg basket in an abandoned storage unit in Gardena, California. "I hope I get my money back," Mr. B. Weiss of Beverly Hills commented after finding the dog-earred image. "After all, I paid 50 bucks for that locker in auction..." No worries, Mr. Weiss!


After blazing across LA County walls for several years, Surf Sister finally learned how to go straight off...


And finally, 2011 concluded with a bang when the "" home page was launched!


Update! Chad in the OC just made the 2011 deadline with this surf matting video gem!

Surfmat in many different ways from chad Stickney on Vimeo.


Dec 23, 2011

Some Historical UDT Swimfin Imagery...

...but not much in the way of historical detail. I spent about an hour on the net this morning seeing what I could find about the history of UDT swim fins made by Voit Rubber Company, and ended up more confused than ever. So, there's work to be done, or maybe someone out there has first hand knowledge they could pass along.

Churchill fins were the first to be used in U.S. military application, from what I can discern. These shots are from WWII, but no specific date was given.

Two "transitional era" photos, when both Churchills and UDTs appear to be in use by the Navy Seals. Again, no date given.

The earliest clearly dated photo I could find depicting what appear to be UDT fins in military use is 1950. Those suits look like a nightmare to use...

50's era training photo.

No date on this photo, just the US Navy ID in the corner. It's hard to bend a UDT fins with your hands, so either this guy is really strong, or they were using softer rubber back when this was taken. Maybe an experienced diver could date the scuba gear?

No date on this print advert, but I looks pre-1960. The fins are called "Duck Feet," yet the manufacturer is not "Voit," but "Spearfisherman." Some Wikipedia clarification is here...

This is from a vintage diving site...look like UDTs to me.

This is a Vietnam era photo, showing Navy Seals with UDT's.

I would date this ad as mid-70's, based on the graphics. (Just an educated guess.) Swimaster was Voit's dive company name, and the fins, which are what we call UDTs, were called Duck Feet in the ad. The smaller, sleeker surfing/swimming Duck Feet were at least 10 years old by this point, so I'm not sure why they used the same name. Maybe because diving and surfing were two different marketing demographics?

The same brown Swimaster UDTs as shown in the above print ad. No date on the photo, unfortunately.

Even the modern UDTs have the Duck Foot name on the shipping box.

This Voit ad, which is recent, makes the clear distinction between Duck Feet and UDTs.